Please note that if you have not seen the previous two Fear Street movies, this review contains mild spoilers.
In this concluding part to the Fear Street trilogy that has so far knifed its way around the mallrat 90s and chopped up late 70s campers, we rewind all the way back to where the curse of Shadyside began: the hanging of witch Sarah Fier in 1666.
Back then there was no competing Shadyside and Sunnyvale; the settlement was simply called Union and life was basic. Told from the perspective of Fier herself, her forbidden love for pastor’s daughter Hannah (played by returning regulars Kiana Madeira and Olivia Scott Welch respectively), once exposed, brings the fury of a blighted community down upon her young head.
Despite all the best efforts of Deena in the preceding two movies – desperately reuniting Sarah Fier’s severed hand and bodily remains, in an effort to break the curse and save the soul of her possessed girlfriend – things are not yet right. Re-using much of the cast so far (complete with somewhat suspect ‘Pilgrim’ quasi-Irish accents) we are warped back in time to 1666 where Deena experiences events through Sarah Fier’s eyes and gets to witness first-hand what happened to start the Shadyside curse (in which periodically someone from the town will ‘snap’ and go on a mass murder spree).
The problem is that for a decent chunk of the movie there is little offered in the way of surprises. From what we have learned already we know that Sarah Fier was hanged for witchcraft. Therefore the descent of the town into a puritanical frenzy once crops wither, livestock go mad, and the pastor’s frenzied mutterings warp into a horrific murderous rage, are a perfunctory example of going through the motions. Even the puritanical bent of the settlement hardly comes through as the young villagers squirrel themselves off into the woods to drink and eat hallucinogenic berries just because they saw the moon at day time.
Now clearly things don’t play out quite as Deena and Co’s investigations in the ‘present’ have suggested. The curse on Shadyside has other elements stemming back deep into the family trees of the settlers where deals with the Devil have run thick with blood offerings. Whilst perceptive viewers versed in horror movies may have guessed based on the usual ‘whodunnit’ kind of tropes, at least Fear Street Part Three does bide its time before ramming a knife of revelation into our guts. But here is where things really do take off.
If the Fear Street Part Three: 1666 parts of the movie lack in oomph (horrible, although already known, after the fact eye plucking aside) then the smash cut into 1994 Part Two is a glorious finale wrapping everything up in one pulsating mass of arterial soaked giblets. Yes, once All Is Known, the action returns to Deena who, armed with the knowledge of how the curse works, must gather any surviving allies in order to fight back against a dark evil that has reigned triumphant for 300 years.
If you thought director Leigh Janiak and cinematographer Caleb Heymann had favoured a neon colour palette already then the third act of Part Three doubles down into sheer fluorescent technicolour madness. As per the first Fear Street, generations of historic killers are descending upon our cast and, holed up in the Shadyside Mall for a final stand, the glowing jets of colour sprayed around make for a distinctive and popcorn guzzling finale.
Low on characters after some got, well, brutally murdered, mall janitor Martin (Darrell Britt-Gibson) is drafted in for both manpower and some welcome (and low key) comic relief. In all brutal honesty, it is the 1994: Part Two segment that rescues Fear Street Part Three: 1666 from simply filling in the few remaining gaps left from the previous two movies. This does make the pace of this concluding chapter inconsistent, but the journey through 1666 is enriched by a decent 40 minutes of action at the end.
Whilst I complained about Deena’s ‘woe is me’ 90s angst in the first movie, she develops well through the saga to become a fully-fledged ‘final girl’ archetype. She’s vulnerable, resourceful, strong, but on the verge of getting hacked up at any given moment. The same logic goes for the whole Fear Street trilogy also: any flaws in each separate instalment are bandaged up by the strength of the series taken as a whole. The characters may not land on their own merits but come to the end of Part Three you are with them 100% due to the length of the journey.
As the credits roll and the possibility of more Fear Street movies is left dangling one can only hope the same ‘event television’ approach is used again. Drive a stake in the calendar please Netflix because, thanks to Fear Street Part One, I want another reason to never look at supermarket appliances the same way again.
Words by Mike Record